Do You Qualify for the Federal Small Business Loan Program?
Through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the federal government allocated funds for states to assist small businesses in securing loans and starting new ventures. Florida received more than $97 million, which is expected to generate at least $976 million in lending or investment for small businesses.
The SSBCI is divided into four parts: the Florida Venture Capital Program for emerging companies in targeted industries; the Loan Guarantee Program, which helps financial institutions secure loans that would otherwise not be approved; the 504 Bridge Loan Program, which assists lenders in financing equipment and owner-occupied real estate purchases; and Export Loan Guarantees for lowering the costs of export financing.
The problem, says Greg Hoffman of Manasota SCORE, is that the federal definition of “small business” is not, by many standards, small; the SBA labels any company with fewer than 500 employees a small business. That means the funding offered by the SSBCI exceeds the needs of most local businesses. For example, the Loan Guarantee Program offers a range of financing from $250,000 to $5 million; a small mom-and-pop store needing a $50,000 loan for renovations would not qualify. Also, “The starting range for the Venture Capital Program is about $1 million,” says Hoffman, “but a lot of startups here have capital needs much lower than that.”
Still, for an emerging business that has large startup needs and can prove long-term growth potential, or for an existing business hoping to purchase the building it has been leasing, the SSBCI can be a valuable tool. Details and application information are available through Enterprise Florida, which is helping administer the program; visit its website to learn more: bit.ly/wCrYvF.
Visitors to Sarasota County increased 8. 8 percent from FY 2011 to FY 2012, and their spending was up 13.7 percent.
SOURCE: Visit Sarasota County